“The Solar Singularity is Nigh;” Will Dominion Be Left High and Dry?


    First, let me just admit that part of the reason I wrote this post is that I really REALLY wanted to use that headline. Just kidding. In all seriousness, though, it’s an interesting, most likely existential question for Dominion Power: will they adapt to a world that’s changing at “light speed” (pun intended) around them, certainly when it comes to solar power; or will they dig their feet in, stick their heads deep into the sand, and continue instructing their bought-and-paid-for state legislators and ostensible “regulators” to delay the inevitable result? And what would that inevitable result be? Let me quote from Greentech Media’s “Solar Singularity” article:

    *”Swanson’s law, named after the founder of SunPower, states that the price of solar panels generally drops by 20 percent with every doubling of shipped panels.”

    *”…when it comes to solar power, we see the very clear trend of price reductions continuing for some time, because there are no inherent limits to further reductions. Jeremy Rifkin has made the case that solar panels will become practically free with zero marginal cost for production in his book The Zero Marginal Cost Society…this is a reasonable prediction.”

    *”…we have reached the point where low costs are driving installations higher, which in turn drives costs lower, which in turn drives installations higher. The virtuous circle seems to be locked in and based on history, we can expect further 20 percent cost reductions with each doubling of capacity, with no inherent limit to cost reductions over time.”

    *”Under this trend, we can expect by 2020, under a 30 percent global rate of growth, to see total solar costs for utility-scale systems at around $0.84 per watt, based on GTM Research’s projected $1.10 per watt for 2017. By 2025, the cost drops to about $0.54 per watt, and by 2030 it will be a practically free cost of $0.34 per watt. By 2040, we can expect under these trends to see costs at about 14 cents per watt. A 5-kilowatt home-size system would cost only $700.

    *”For all practical purposes, the space for installing solar around the world is infinite. We’ll run out of power demand long before we’ll run out of space for solar. As costs plummet for solar, more and more countries will see solar become economically viable, and more and more locations, such as roadways, areas over metro rail lines, etc., will be covered in solar.”

    So, again, what is Dominion Power’s plan to deal with this situation? Stick to its antiquated model of a top-down generator and supplier of power, when people are increasingly capable of producing (and storing) their own power, thank you very much? Depend on the government to protect it from – horror of horrors – the free market, which Dominion’s Republican supporters CLAIM to support, while maintaining a system which denies consumers a choice, as normally occurs in a functioning market? Consign itself to inevitable extinction, the only question being how quickly (and painfully) said extinction takes place (5 years? 10 years? 20 years?). Continue to harm Virginia’s environment and economy (and its own customers), rather than encouraging the clean energy revolution (energy efficiency, solar, wind) while in the process of dragging out its inevitable demise?

    Bottom line question: with the solar singularly “nigh,” will Dominion choose to adapt, or be left high and dry? Or are they in total denial mode, along the lines of the climate-science-denying, fossil-fuel-worshipping freakazoids in Florida?